CELS BIG THINKER – Madeline Wiegman

When Madeline Wiegman first visited the University of Rhode Island, she immediately knew that a major in Medical Laboratory Science would help her realize her dream. “I always wanted to help people,” explains Wiegman of her decision to embark on the rigorous major in URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS). “In the Medical Laboratory Science field I can have a positive impact on people’s lives.”

After three years of demanding classes in subjects such as molecular biology, organic chemistry, and physics, Wiegman took several giant steps toward achieving her career goals by landing a highly competitive scholarship that includes a paid internship, and she secured a second sought-after internship for her senior year.

“I was useless for the rest of the day because I was so excited,” recounts Wiegman as she describes her reaction to learning that she won the coveted Rhode Island Blood Center Medical Laboratory Science Scholarship, which includes an award of $5000 and a paid part-time student technologist internship for the entire year.

Wiegman was also accepted as an intern at one of the state’s most competitive locations, Rhode Island Hospital, where she will complete the eleven-month clinical internship required of all Medical Laboratory Science seniors.

With Medical Laboratory Science, Wiegman has many options for improving peoples’ lives. She may go on to develop better medical tests for earlier disease intervention; perform genetic therapy research; or use the major as a step towards becoming a doctor. Right now she looks forward to helping doctors make lifesaving diagnoses for their patients by analyzing tissues samples and identifying ailments, which is critical to the health and treatment of patients. 

“An individual’s symptoms could describe anything from just a cold to a respiratory disease,” offers Wiegman, so it is important to determine the correct diagnosis through precise laboratory testing. Wiegman’s two internships will give her hands-on experience performing such tests.

“I’m excited to start applying all the information I’ve spent hours and hours learning,” explains Wiegman. “I’ve been looking forward working in a lab since starting my freshman year.”

Dr. Gregory Paquette, Wiegman’s advisor, says Wiegman’s awards are a testament to the talent he sees in her on a daily basis. “Madeline is one of the strongest Medical Laboratory Science undergraduate students in my 35 years at URI,” says Paquette. “She has an extremely strong work ethic and is eager to learn as much about laboratory medicine as she can.”

Wiegman also makes an effort to give back to the CELS community. When she is not training for a half marathon, paddleboarding, or working at URI’s Anna Fascitelli Wellness Center, she acts as a CELS ambassador welcoming new students during move-in days, and as a teaching assistant in introductory biology courses.

Long after she leaves URI to pursue her career in medical laboratory science, Wiegman plans to continue to give back. “I hope I make a contribution to the greater good,” Wiegman dreams. “Whether that means being a really good lab tech diagnosing people’s needs, or performing research on a new vaccine, or developing genetic therapies,” says Wiegman, “I see Medical Laboratory Science as a springboard for a lot of different things.”